434.301 MHz PICO Balloon Reaches Sweden

James Coxon M6JCX launches PICO a 434.301 MHz USB RTTY balloon – Image David Bowkis M0MDB

PICO, a single foil balloon was launched by James Coxon M6JCX on Saturday, October 20, 2012 from Suffolk in the UK. It carried GPS and a miniature radio transmitter sending RTTY (ascii-8) on 434.301 MHz USB running 10 mW output.

During the 19 hour flight it crossed the North Sea and landed somewhere in central Sweden.

PICO Payload - Image Credit David Bowkis M0MDB

PICO Payload – Image Credit David Bowkis M0MDB

An increasing number of radio amateurs, including Foundation licence holders, are experimenting with ultra light balloon payloads, typically weighing between 20 and 75 grams.

Balloons such as these do not go to high altitudes instead they float between 3,000 and 7,000 metres for an extended period and can have a radio range of up to 300 km.

In an attempt to understand the concepts of foil balloons and super-pressure a collection of statistics from Pico balloon flights have been compiled at http://ukhas.org.uk/projects:microballoons:data

The telemetry data it transmitted could be decoded using the free dl-fldigi software (select PICO in the payload drop down and then autoconfigure).

Watch a short video by David Bowkis M0MDB of the PICO launch

Watch the presentation given by James Coxon M6JCX at the UKHAS Conference in 2011

Thomas Krahn KT5TK launching the Mylar ballons carrying the KT5TK-11 APRS payload

Thomas Krahn KT5TK launching the Mylar ballons carrying the KT5TK-11 APRS payload

On Friday, October 19, 2012 CST, Thomas Krahn KT5TK launched five Mylar balloons each 80cm diameter, that carried a Pecan 144.390 MHz APRS transmitter KT5TH-11 weighing just 55 grams. It transmitted every 5 minutes to save battery power.

In the United Kingdom these flights don’t use an amateur radio callsign since balloon flights are outside the scope of the UK amateur licence. They operate under licence exempt regulations in the 434.040 – 434.790 MHz band.

You can see tracks of current balloon launches by checking this page http://spacenear.us/tracker/

APRS track (enter a callsign such as KT5TK-11) http://aprs.fi/

You can download dl-fldigi for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu Linux at http://wiki.ukhas.org.uk/projects:dl-fldigi
dl-fldigi can decode many different amateur radio digital modes.

Beginners Guide to Tracking using dl-fldigi http://ukhas.org.uk/guides:tracking_guide

Video – How to track High Altitude 434 MHz Balloons http://www.southgatearc.org/news/may2013/

To get details of upcoming balloon launches subscribe to the UKHAS Mailing List by sending a blank email to this address:

Amateur Radio Party Balloon Success! http://www.uk.amsat.org/?p=6857

Around the World 28 MHz Party-Balloons